WASHINGTON — Pope Francis will make an unprecedented address to Congress on Sept. 24 during his first visit to the United States.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Thursday that the pope formally accepted an invitation the speaker extended last year.
No pope or religious leader who serves as a head of state has ever addressed Congress, according to the U.S. House Historian's Office.
Pope Francis, who was elected the head of the Roman Catholic church in 2013, will visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington this fall during his first visit to the United States as pope.
"In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds," Boehner, who is Catholic, said in a statement. "His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is also Catholic, said in a statement that she was "honored and overjoyed" that Pope Francis would address Congress."Pope Francis has renewed the faith of Catholics worldwide and inspired a new generation of people, regardless of their religious affiliation, to be instruments of peace," she said.